Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Eliminate the senate/Counterpunch


"""The filibuster is merely one of a thousand ways a small number of senators, even just one, can clog the system. Unlike the House of Representatives, the Senate was never intended to operate by majority rule; it was designed to operate by “unanimous consent.” That means, as we observed during the endless non-debate of the health care bill, that one senator can demand that the entire text of any bill or amendment must be read aloud – word by audible word – if one member simply utters the words “I object” at the appropriate moment. It also means that nominations, even bills, can be held up for days, weeks, even months before a majority leader tries to start what passes for debate in the Senate these days. And, it means any and all committee hearings must be shut down any time the Senate is in session – and a senator objects. The Senate rules are an almost endless opportunity for mischief, or worse, for any member or faction wanting to play the role – just like the racist Southern Democrats did in the 1960s when they stood, insistently and almost endlessly, in the way of civil rights bills.

The way the Senate operates also means that any senator with the brains and guts to hamstring George W. Bush’s blustering the country into war in October, 2002 could have done so. (But alas, there was no such senator.) It is a system designed, for good or ill, to permit a minority – sometimes tiny – to interpose itself, as obnoxiously or as honorably as they may choose.

Eliminate all that, and what do you get? You get the House of Representatives. If you want to fix the gridlock problem in Congress and fix it good, the best thing to do is to eliminate the Senate. ....."

To reiterate: the Senate was not intended to operate by majority rule--an important point. Had a few DINOcrats bothered with the Federalist papers they might have realized that Madison & Co. made allowances for Liebermans; the US Senate's set up to allow a few powerful senators to block the will of the people when necessary (though admittedly that may not be always a bad thing, as DeToqueville realized)



New McWorlds goes GOP-Libertarian, and now approves of that loud, pro-war, semi-orthodox altar boy Andy Sullivan (Sullivan praised Bush/Cheney and GOP until about 2005, and still favors a flat tax, privatization of about everything, and opposes govt. funded health care. Nothin' but Barry Goldwater-style anti-govt. greed and huckstering. Then, note the routine references on NWs to RA Heinlein, a hawk on 'Nam, pal of L-Ron, hater of big govt. etc.))


CharleyCarp said...

Cloture was introduced in 1917, in the wake of a LaFollette led small minority of the Senate having kept Wilson's ship-arming (and thus WWI-starting) legislation from coming to a vote.

J said...

Important point, Sir. The cloture actually preserves the majority rule, though, doesn't it? It's an anti-filibuster motion. Wilson wanted the cloture so that the isolationists would NOT prevent his war bill from passing--as far as I can tell.

Historically, at least, the very conception of the senate was to prevent a pure representative democracy, I believe. What was it, like Fed. Paper 10--Madison rants on about "factions," the dangers of democracy unleashed, so forth (actually a sort of classical view, ala Cicero, Aristotle, etc).

When the ratification of the Const. started, the anti-Federalists (Lee, Mason, etc) objected to many of the Federalist's plans including the Fed. judiciary and the Electoral college, I believe. And if you count the numbers of senators from small states, say Nevada, vs. Calif. NY, etc, one discovers they have an incredible amount of power. Harry Reid was voted in by probably under 3 or 4 million people. A Feinstein (not that I like approve of DiFi) was voted in by 20 million or so (numbers approx.but the point holds). Yet in terms of a vote, Reid (or Lieberdem) has the same power as a Feinstein, or other senators from big states. That seems weird.

I'm not actually agreeing with Wheeler who I think's a bit of a naive leftist, but it is a bit odd that the liberals don't perceive the potential injustice of the senatorial process (actually Digby recently penned something re. senate, as in F.-- the crackers. Wheeler describes the issue fairly well).

Custom Search

Blog Archive